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Amniocentesis Tests

Volume 129: debated on Wednesday 9 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is his estimate of the numbers of amniocentesis tests which were undertaken in England in the most recent year for which the information is available; and what information he has as to how many of these tests were followed by (a) an abortion, (b) a normal birth, (c) the birth of a disabled child and (d) a miscarriage;(2) if he will list the routine statistics which are collected centrally by his Department concerning

(a) amniocentesis techniques of foetal diagnosis, and (b) chorionic villus sampling techniques; and whether he has any plans for extending the statistical information gained by his Department in these areas.

While information is routinely collected centrally on the number of amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling operations performed in NHS hospitals on in-patients and day-cases, these procedures are normally carried out as out-patient procedures and no central data are available, although they may be held locally.There are at present no plans to extend the collection of routine statistics to cover details of out-patient procedures.Abortion notifications provide details of abortions conducted on the grounds of foetal abnormality but do not indicate what tests or other evidence have been used to make the diagnosis.It is not possible to link individual cases from the two sets of information. Nor is it possible to link details of the operation with information relating to the subsequent birth of a child nor to a miscarriage unless this occurs within the same consultant episode

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the proportion of women who are offered an amniocentesis test and take up such an offer.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services, if he will list those health authorities in England in which foetal diagnosis by amniocentesis and related techniques are available; and if he will indicate for each such area what age thresholds are applied for women with no apparent genetic risk for limiting the availability of amniocentesis.

The information requested on foetal diagnosis by amniocentesis and related techniques can be produced only at a disproportionate cost. No information is held centrally on age thresholds for limiting amniocentesis to women with no apparent genetic risk.